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The 10 best RTS games of all time

Put your thinking caps on for these games.

Sometimes you want a game that lets you outthink your opponents. Real-Time Strategy titles let you do just that, allowing players to build elaborate bases and massive armies to overwhelm either human or AI foes. If you’re looking for the best RTS games that you can sink countless hours into, here are our all-time favorites.

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The best RTS games ever – our top 10 picks

One of the hallmarks of a great RTS game is how it can be deceptively simple to pick up and yet take hours to master. Unlike most strategy games, these titles progress time constantly, meaning that you have to act quickly or find yourself on the back foot for the rest of the match. This can be pretty stressful, but it also means that you can have multiple projects going at the same time. If you’re good at keeping multiple plates spinning, these games might be right up your alley.

Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition

Image via Xbox Studios

Look, we have a bit of a soft spot for the classics, but can you blame us? This remaster of the genre-defining 1999 Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings was released in 2019 and elevated the original to new heights. With better graphics and some quality-of-life improvements, it breathed new life into what was still a fantastic RTS experience. The Definitive Edition also includes all the previous expansions for Age of Empires 2 and a whole new set of content called The Khans. This includes new civilizations and campaign modes to compete in. You can easily spend a hundred hours in this game and not even experience half of what it offers.

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2

Image via Focus Home Interactive

Take your thirst for battles into space with this excellent RTS game from Focus Home Interactive. Set in the Warhammer 40k universe, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2 improves on almost every aspect of its predecessor, delivering huge space battles that will require precise positioning and careful planning to survive.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2

Image via EA Games

Another classic RTS game that still holds up today is Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2. This game features some of the best writing in the genre, with Cold War tropes coming in fast and furious through its lengthy playtime. Every character is a send-up of spy and war films from the 1980s, complete with overzealous patriotism and logic-defying commands. Between all the humor, though, is a great RTS game that features many units to unlock and beautifully balanced maps.

Company of Heroes 2

Image via Relic Entertainment

It took a few years, but eventually, Company of Heroes 2 turned into a solid RTS game. With a launch that was riddled with bugs and balance issues, it would be easy to write off this title as a lesser follow-up to its predecessor. However, multiple patches and a dedicated community have made this World War 2 RTS game into an unlikely classic in the genre. Even early maps feel like you get through them by the skin of your teeth. Many of these features made their way to the eventual sequel, but we still have a lot of love for this underdog of a game.


Image via Nintendo

Vikings are always cool, so seeing an RTS game delves into their civilization and mythology as Northgard does is great. You start as a small colony in an unforgiving environment, surrounded by sparse resources and harsh winters. Players must balance growth with the need to prepare for the coming winter.

Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Image via PlayStation Store

Most RTS games have you building your forces to overwhelm your enemies with sheer numbers. However, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun takes a different approach. Here, stealth is the objective. Players control a small team of ninja, samurai, and rogues to sneak their way into enemy bases and accomplish their objectives without being seen.

Steel Division 2

Image via Eugen Systems

Real-Time Strategy games usually feature either sci-fi or fantasy elements to help cut through the grim world of war. If you want to forgo that and get a more grounded and realistic RTS experience, Steel Division 2 is for you. Set during World War 2, it puts players in command of Soviet armies as they advance on the German capital. Each map is painstakingly detailed, featuring a 1:1 recreation of a real-world location, making this the one of the most realistic RTS titles ever made.

They Are Billions

Image via Numantian Games

This survival RTS game pits the player against an unending horde of zombies that seek to overwhelm their small shelter. There is a constant sense of dread that comes from not knowing when or where the next breach will come, so you have to be ready to move at a moment’s notice.

Related: The best zombie survival games of all time

Wargame: Red Dragon

Image via Eugen Systems

There are almost endless possibilities ahead of you in Wargame: Red Dragon, which takes everything that makes the wargaming hobby fun and streamlines it into a more accessible video game. Balance your units on land, air, and sea to help push back the encroaching Soviet invasion on the West. This isn’t quite as realistic as some of the other games on this list, but the flexibility in how you can approach the game makes it incredibly fun to try new tactics on the fly.

Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War 2

Image via Relic Entertainment

In most Warhammer 40k games, you’re placed in command of huge armies and send them out to conquer the worlds around you. However, Dawn of War 2 takes a different approach. It gives you a handful of Space Marines, each with customizable abilities and equipment. Fortunately, these few powerful units are enough to turn the tides of most battles.

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Aidan O'Brien
Aidan O'Brien has been playing games for over three decades and has been writing about them for five years. When not getting stomped on by the creations of Hidetaka Miyazaki, he enjoys spending too much time in Warframe, Destiny 2 and any other ARPG with a solid grind. When not writing, he is doing inexplicable behind-the-scenes magic for GAMURS Group.
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Trent Cannon
Trent is a Freelance Writer at Gamepur. He has contributed news, guides, and reviews about video games for over a decade and has a special place in his heart for JRPGs, Splatoon, Sea of Thieves, and anything that's a bit silly, really.